Sixers' Dwight Howard Sees a 'Different Dog' in Joel Embiid

Dwight Howard sees something different in Joel Embiid this year.
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Philadelphia 76ers veteran center Dwight Howard has been around some great players since entering the NBA back in 2004. Howard himself is an established NBA star who is sure to get a ticket to the NBA Hall of Fame when his career is all said and done.

He might not be the same caliber player he once was, but Howard has been one of the best vocal leaders on the Sixers this season, and he's proving to be an excellent addition to the team due to the impact he has on Embiid.

Before linking up with the 76ers for training camp back in December, Howard planned to do all he can to get the best out of Embiid. 17 games into the year, Embiid looks like a top candidate to win MVP. And on Monday, Howard talked about what he's seen out of the big man lately.

"You know, it's like a different dog in him," Howard said on Monday when asked about Embiid's progress as of late. "He's like dunking and yelling at people. He's like, 'Nah, this is my year.' I just love what he's doing, and I'm so proud of him. I just want him to continue playing at this pace. Stay humble and hungry -- those are the two biggest things for him. He's going to be great. He already is great, but you know, I'm just really happy for him."

In 14 games this year, Embiid has averaged a career-high of 27.7 points-per-game while collecting 11.5 rebounds-per-game. As the 76ers continue to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, Embiid has played a significant role in their success early on.

The Sixers' big man's talent has rarely been questioned. Since entering the NBA, Embiid has been recognized as one of the league's best centers. However, health, shape, and a supposed lack of motivation at times often got in Embiid's way and prevented him from being his best self.

This year, he looks much different. Not only has he remained relatively healthy and kept up with a faster-paced Sixers team, but Embiid genuinely looks like he's having fun. And when the big man is being asked to take over the game and dominate on both sides of the floor, he's doing it without hesitation, which makes Howard and the rest of Embiid's Sixers teammates believe he's truly becoming an MVP contender this season. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_